Sunday 31 October 2021

Eating what I made on my last post

The word faggot means different things in different cultures and languages. Growing up in the UK, it primarily means a meatball fashioned from (if lucky), poor cuts of meat but primarily offal. It was a way to use up leftover items from slaughtering animals. In some parts of the UK these are known as savoury ducks. 

Other uses of this term can be found here.

Anyway, today we had one of the 4 portions made the other day, served with the traditional mashed potato and peas:

We finished of with a chocolate coated mint ice cream lolly - lovely.

Friday 29 October 2021

What am I making this morning for the freezer?

Below we have 1lb pork shoulder, 1lb bacon pieces, 1 egg, 6oz pork liver. There should have been 2 x 150g packets of sage and onion stuffing:

The meat was minced and the egg, dry stuffing, 6 fl oz cold water and 1 heaped teaspoon ground black pepper added to the minced meats.

Two large ice cream scoops of mixture were formed into flattened patties and put on a lined baking pan, plus 2 roughly chopped onions. They were cooked for 50 minutes at 200C. The meat was removed to cool off into 4 containers. 

I put the onions, 1/2 can cherry tomatoes, 1 1/2 pork stock cubes, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 1 tsp garlic and 1 teaspoon ground paprika into a large jug and topped it up to the 2 pints mark with boiling water. This was transferred into a pan brought to the boil. It was thickened to the desired consistency, taste adjusted and whizzed up to create a smooth gravy.

There you have it, homemade faggots and gravy. I faggot each plus gravy, potatoes and vegetables so enough for us 2 for 4 meals.

This recipe was originally from Frugal Queen but I have adapted it to our tastes.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Up and up!

 On our way out this morning, we noticed petrol had gone up 3p per litre since last week. Our shopping bill, still for the usual items, is about 30% more than 6 months ago. Still buying a few extra things each week to put away, spreading the cost for the next few months.

Come January, the full tax import and export duty will be fully implemented at all ports. Remember the chaos last year when they tried to implement it and we were given extra time to sort it out. I don’t know if we/other countries have done that, or whether the border force have been increased. I do know, on some blogs, that people have mentioned the increase in fields used for storing shipping containers that can’t currently go anywhere.

Sunday 24 October 2021


 Christmas cards are finished! I have written out mine and just need the address list printing off to finish the job. DB does his family so the job isn’t too much for one of us. I have a few birthdays cards to do plus decide what presents to make for posting/giving.

Another lot of washing is on the line. Although cold it is windy so hopefully will dry. DB has just ironed the drying from yesterday.

Garden bin will get emptied this week then we can carry on putting the garden to bed.

I will make some fruit scones soon. As we now eat our main meal at 12:00, we will have one with stewed rhubarb and custard for tea. Our meal will be tomatillo chicken and rice.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Washing and creating

Yesterday in the wind and slight warmth, I managed to get all the dog bedding washed and mostly dried. Today is grey and dismal but our bedding is on the line. I doubt it will dry but at least it will have some fresh air and hopefully dry a little.

The past few days I have been busy, amongst other things, starting to create my Christmas cards. General ones (20) have been stamped and hand coloured. Just the inside flysheets to do then they will be finished.

I have now started on our family/friends versions. Hope to get them completed by the start of next week, we shall see.

Must check stamps and see if I need anymore before the Post Office, like everyone else, decides to raise the price on them. Gosh, things are getting so expensive all round aren't they?

Friday 22 October 2021

We are glad

 We got our heating oil when we did. It cost us 48p per litre on 30th September. Today, it is between 63p and 73p per litre, depending on how quickly you want it delivered.

Petrol has gone up 7p per litre in just a few weeks. Better keep you car topped up as much as you can...

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Flu jabs - tick!

 DB and I had our flu jabs today. Didn’t feel a thing and so far, neither of us has a sore arm. Unusual especially for me!

DB is due to get his Covid booster on Friday. I was 3 weeks behind him so need to wait a little longer. People are just letting their guard down too much we think. Mask wearing is reducing in lots of places.

Despite hardly going out, DDiL has Covid. She began to feel unwell last week, positive PCR today. DS so far is okay and although DGD has been ill, she has been tested as well. Negative so far but she seems fine now.

None of us know where we will pick up or catch Coronavirus from, let alone Nora-virus or flu. We shall continue to keep ourselves as safe as possible.

Saturday 16 October 2021

Preparations still ongoing

Oil tank filled, log stores full, papers for lighting the fire, still collecting. DB is chopping kindling each day, trying to get our kindling store sorted out a bit more.

So far I have preserved piccalilli, marmalade, green tomato chutney, mincemeat and jam. I shall do one more lot of marmalade then that may be enough.

My Brexit box, which came in useful for the early months of lockdown, has been filled up and then some. People think I am strange but I really don't care. Its not just about preparing for winter anymore, its preparing for whatever. Not some imaginary apocalypse scenario but food shortages/mega increases in food, fuel and other items or possible energy shortages. 

Forewarned is forearmed. If buying items now to squirrel away is seen as foolish, guess I am a fool? No, I am simply buying now to help those price hikes not hurt so much in the future. We have lived through hard times and can do so again. 

We know how to conserve our water supply, how to reduce our fuel bill, cook from scratch, keep warm, and clean our homes with just a few items rather than a ton of sprays, full of chemicals.

It occured to me the other day to go through my digital bookmarks, for recipes I am interested in and get them either printed out or written into a recipe book. Hints and tips on all kinds of problems also need to be jotted down. 

Have you ever thought what would happen if the internet/power went down for a prolonged period of time. We wouldn't be able to shop as neither the tills nor your bank cards would work. Cash can't be gotten hold off and even if you had some, where could you spend it? Stocktaking is all done via the tills. What goes out needs to be brought back in etc.

No power for days on end, heat, lights, cooking? A family member lives in an all electric bungalow. I have persuaded her to buy a small flat camping stove to boil water for hot drinks, filling hot water bottles to keep warm, simple food cooking. She will be buying extra candles, lanterns and a head torch. She has loads of batteries for items already.

Think about it, are you prepared?

More window blinds

 The new blinds that fit into the double glazed window rubber bits are very effective. A year has passed since we fitted a set to the bedroom windows. Full moonlit nights and sunny mornings are no longer a problem, the room remains quite dark.

We have waited to buy a set for the lower windows in the lounge. The side window already had some. We do have white vertical blinds. Whilst they give privacy, they do nothing again the bright sunlight or cold air dropping down. Yes, although they are double glazed, cold air  still drops down a little, making my feet feel cold.

They seemed to take a bit more adjusting than last time but for the most part, are now done. Might need a little tweaking. Below in the picture, right hand side, is the blind and its surround fitted and in the upright position:

These blinds can be opened from the top or bottom but we tend to have them closed at the top, then pull the bottom bit into place when needed. Gosh, they made such a difference last evening. We don't have plans to do the two little windows yet, we will decide later on.

Friday 15 October 2021

Hot off the press!

 About 9.00pm last night, I set to peeling and salting vegetables ready to make piccalilli:

After giving them a thorough rinse and drain this morning, the mustard sauce was made and here we are:
They will need a minimum of 6 weeks to mature before we can start to eat them. The middle jar will be used first as I didn't quite have enough to fill it. I have one jar from last year and the vegetables are still quite crunchy. Another job ticked off!

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Dark and tart!

DB thawed the outside freezer yesterday. Sorting through the myriad bags of fruit, we came across some from 2019 and let them thaw. One was a bag of blackberries, the pips from which  we are not too keen on after thawing. They were stewed and pushed through a sieve.

Having weighed the rest of the fruit, plus the blackberry juice, they were put into a preserving pan ready to make jam:

I tend to use 85% rather than 100% fruit to sugar ratio as it gives a more fruity (and often tarter) taste. Lemon juice is sometimes required to help it set. These jars contain rhubarb, plums, damsons and the blackberry juice. It tastes beautiful.


Sunday 10 October 2021

Advocaat muffins finished off

Herewith the Advocaat muffins from the other day, topped with Advocaat frosting and a half cherry. Last time, I used maroshino cherries but had to settle for rinsed glace ones this time:

Cream 125g butter with 100g white sugar. Add in two tablespoons from 125g self raising flour. Add 1 beaten egg, then the rest of the flour. Finally stir in 80ml Advocaat. Using a spoon or a 1 1/2" ice cream scoop, divide into 8 deep muffin cases in tins.

Bake at 180C for 15 - 20 minutes or until done. Remove from the tin and leave to go cold.

To make the frosting, blend 25g butter with 150g icing sugar. Stir in 30ml Advocaat. Divide between all the tops and smooth on. Add 1/2 a rinsed glace cherry (or better still), a whole marashino (cocktail) cherry on top as decoration.

We had one each for supper with a cup of tea. The rest were open frozen then put into a bag and left in the freezer.

Friday 8 October 2021

Epic Double Fail

 I opened a brand new packet of yeast today. Opening one of the 8 sachets inside, I baked bread. Total fail. I repeated the make, opening yet another sachet, total fail:

They didn't rise properly therefore didn't cook properly - they are as heavy as a brick. Having had an error come up on my bread making machine, I wondered if it was that so watched it go through its paces on the second loaf. I tested the yeast after the second fail, yes, I know I should have done it after the first:( 

Dead as a dodo! Almost 1kg of flour wasted, I hate waste!!!

On a better note, the chocolate cookies and the start of advocaat muffins went fine.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Why you can't blame all our problems on Brexit

This very informative 9 minute video from Ros Atkins, helps explains all the links in the chain - worldwide - that are causing problems: here.

If you think it is all going to blow over quickly, sadly, you are wrong.

Russia blames the EU for the current gas crisis, the EU blames Russia. Russia, who supples 35% of gas to the EU, says they could offer more! 

The world has continued to move more and more products to China, all in the name of greed. 

It was cheaper to have products made there (and Asia) because of desperate people willing to work for a pittance.  How many times do you buy anything and find it made in China/Asia - hundreds of times I suspect.  

The world as a whole just doesn't make anything themselves anymore, chosing instead to outsource them and use the 'just in time' policy that is currently crippling us all.

Taiwan is responsible for most of the worlds 'chips', see here.

Guess who is threatening Taiwan - yup - China. I wonder why!!!!! 

Climate change is affecting more countries causing severe crop failures, not just occasionally, but now more regularly. Worldwide aquafers (which took millions of years to form) are drying up due to drought (some are nearly empty). They are drawn up for farm irrigation but what happens when they all run dry. Already they have gone from green to amber, now red - worldwide, see the third in a trilogy of water programmes from the BBC - here. 

To say I was shocked by all three was an understatement yet scientists have been screaming warnings for decades and no-one has listened, particualarly the more affluent countries.

Unfortunately, the BBC links might not work outside the UK.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

Exchanging summer for winter

 All my summer clothing has been folded and put away in the top of my wardrobe. All winter items that were up there have been brought down, ironed and hung up. Winter boots and shoes have replaced summer sandals.

Way past their best summer vests have gone for rags or been thrown. The best 3 have been put away. I have invested in 6 thermal vests, a new walking coat and normal coat. The coats came with 30% off. They will both last me years. Gloves hats and scarves are checked over ready to use.

DB has bought new walking boots and trousers, with 30% off. Again, they should last years. We are both ready.

Newspapers are being stocked up (via friends). Oil, logs and kindling are organised. Over the next few weeks I will buy in Christmas items of food. We will eat them all through until Spring. With supply being all over the place, I want to be able to give my guests something nice to eat rather than nothing. We are not a last minute ‘just in time’ household.

My Brexit boxes have grown, they now cover anything and everything required to cover any shortfalls due to the global supply problems. If you can’t see the problems occurring, or think it won’t happen, or affect you and yours, just remember the recent fuel crisis panic buying. That was just fuel...

Sunday 3 October 2021

More worry for some

The England government is in talks to decide whether pensioners will have to pay for their prescriptions. Under current legislation, once you reach 60, you are entitled to free prescriptions.

They are now proposing that you don't receive them until of pensionable age, exemptions not withstanding. Well, no surprise there then.

I must admit I always felt guilty getting them free of charge when I could afford to pay for them but also realised for many, they were a Godsend. I also thought they are losing a lot of money not charging us. Seems they are looking at doing so!

Saturday 2 October 2021

Mincemeat done!

We got enough to fill two jars and a small bowlful leftover:

I have one cooking apple left which is currently stewing. It will be added to the remaining mincemeat to make a crumble.

Friday 1 October 2021

A different form of composting

 The mini compost bins in each vegetable bed worked well but couldn't hold much and took up too much growing space. A change is needed.

I had never heard of trench composting. The idea is that you dig a trench and slowly fill it with composting bits (kitchen waste and soaked paper in our case), before covering over with soil. It rots down in situ and feeds the plants directly.

Now my beds are almost empty I have dug my first trench out, about a spade deep, and pilled the soil from it alongside its length.

So far two lots of kitchen waste have been put in and covered. I plan to do this all winter and see how it fares. You can off course do it all year long if you have enough gaps between plantings.

I shall report back in Spring on this and let you know how it went.